Author Archives: Dan Freeman

Tiger’s Last Tournament: What Do the Strokes Gained Numbers Really Tell Us About His Game?

With The Masters coming up next week and the inevitable “state of Tiger Wood’s game” media blitz that will surely accompany it, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at Tiger’s last tournament from a “strokes gained” perspective.  While the media has generally assumed since Tiger’s last tournament (the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, if you recall) that Tiger’s game is in complete shambles, you might be surprised to learn that the strokes gained stats tell a different tale.

We entered Tiger’s data for the first two days of the tournament just like we enter it for our own games and just like you enter it for yours using our data entry interface.  Official strokes gained statistics on the PGA Tour will make minute adjustments to these numbers which better reflect the strength of the field and the difficulty of the course and conditions.  We could easily do this if the Tour let us play with all the ShotTracker numbers, but we don’t get all the data in an easy to analyze form so we have to work with the basic numbers, which we do get.  However, raw strokes gained numbers are still very close to the adjusted numbers and they are plenty accurate enough to give us a clear picture of Tiger’s performance.

While Tiger’s game was not exactly dominant, a look at his stats in each of our categories reveals that his game was not as bad as everyone thinks in nearly every category.  The glaring exception, of course, is Tiger’s short game, represented clearly in our stats by the 0-50 yard category.  In this category, Tiger’s game was indeed atrocious, approaching 20 or 30+ handicap level.

Here is a look at Tiger’s per round stats from day one:

chart (1)

Tiger shot a 73 on day 1, which of course doesn’t generally lead to winning tournaments but was not terrible.  His total strokes gained for the day was -1.16.  In other words, he lost 1.16 strokes to the field total.  It is very interesting to note where Tiger’s strokes were gained and lost.  By strokes gained golf categories:

Total SG: -1.16

SG Driving: +0.95

201+: +1.43

151-200: -0.24

101-150: -0.93

51-100: -0.22

0-50: -2.54

SG Putting: +0.39

Other than the 0-50 yard range, Tiger’s numbers on day one are quite respectable.  In fact, his long game was exceptionally good, with solid driving results and excellent numbers over 200 yards.  His strokes gained putting is more than respectable, gaining significant strokes on the field.  Those are winning numbers and show that Tiger’s game was not completely off-track as has been portrayed in the media.

Of course, the short game numbers are bad and are already hinting at the day two short game disaster.  I’m certainly not claiming that Tiger was in winning form in this tournament, and the strokes gained stats clearly show that his short game was terribly out of sync.  What I am pointing out, however, is that it is not too far-fetched to think that Tiger can fix that short game, and the rest of his game is not in the desperate condition that it has been portrayed.  In other words, this is MOSTLY A SHORT GAME ISSUE.  That may or may not be fixable.  But the rest of his game is very close to, or in some categories better than, the PGA Tour average.

Just to see how day 2 played out, here are his strokes gained results for day 2:

chart (3)

While this graph clearly shows a bad day of golf with a strokes gained total of -10.16 (he shot an 82), the point here is that most of the damage was done by a short game that had completely gone off the rails.  The rest of Tiger’s game, even on a “lost” day, is quite respectable.  There is a driving drop-off from day one, putting slipped, and other categories are slightly below average other than a slightly positive result in the 51-100 yard category.  But again, the main point to be made here is that his short game was completely a wreck, to the tune of -6.49 for one round, which is unheard of at the PGA Tour level.  Other than that, his game is respectable, especially considering that his mental focus had to be lacking toward the latter half of day 2.  With a short game that embarrassing, we can probably assume he had largely lost his edge.

I wanted to post this quick article about Tiger’s game seen through the lens of strokes gained stats to show how revealing strokes gained statistics can be.  Tiger’s stats clearly show that his short game was indeed incredibly bad, but that the rest of his game was very close to or even better than the PGA Tour average.  There is a general understanding right now that Tiger’s game was in complete disarray, but the strokes gained stats for his last tournament do not show this at all.  Sometimes I wonder if Tiger himself knows that the rest of his game was not that bad.

Someone drop Tiger a note and tell him just to bring his short game up to par.  The rest of his game is close and is likely to come around.





Strokes Gained Golf Is Up and Running!!!

As of December 23, our website is up and running and fully functional!  We are offering a free 2 week trial membership, and a one year membership for early subscribers is only $25.  By helping us sign up new members, you can get huge discounts on next year’s membership.

Once you become a member, you will have access to easy-to-use data collection tools. Once you start using these tools to record your rounds of golf, we will generate an array of strokes gained stats that are available nowhere else in the world.  These stats will include strokes gained putting, strokes gained driving, and strokes gained stats for all distances.  All strokes gained statistics will be tracked over time, showing progression and/or regression.  These detailed, accurate strokes gained stats are available nowhere else in the world, and have the ability to measure and track your golf game like never before.  You will soon see that traditional golf stats pale in comparison.

Become one of the first to enjoy the benefits of full strokes gained analysis for your game, and help us on our quest to make strokes gained stats available to all golfers!

No gimmicks. No flashy marketing. Just solid, high quality strokes gained statistics made as simple as possible.

During the process of developing Strokes Gained Golf, we have had the opportunity to hone in on exactly what we have to offer our customers.  We spend a lot of time looking at related golf products, reading product descriptions and product reviews for GPS apps, laser devices, GPS devices, golf stat generators, Game Golf, etc.  There are a lot of golf products on the market, and we try hard to keep our fingers on the pulse of the industry.

While one might assume that we could be easily overwhelmed or discouraged by the number of products and features on the market, the opposite is actually true: we are gaining confidence all the time in the unique quality and service that we are working hard to provide.  In other words, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are no products or companies that are trying to do what we at SGG are trying to do: consistently produce very accurate, meaningful, cutting edge strokes gained statistics for golfers of all levels while making the necessary data collection as simple and painless as possible for golfers during and after a round.  We have no interest in bells and whistles.

We are golfers ourselves, so we understand what happens out on the course.  We understand that golfers want to spend as little time and energy as possible collecting data while on the course.  We should all be focusing as much as possible on playing the game, or playing the game and enjoying time outside with friends.  Stats for your golf game are interesting, useful, and motivating.  However, we fully understand that if the collection of the data necessary for generating golf statistics imposes too much on the flow of the game, then most golfers would just as soon skip the stats.

At SGG, we are very focused on a specific goal: providing world-class stats in the simplest possible way.  We are not interested in gimmicks.  We are not interested in multiple “features” that don’t help us achieve our goal.  We believe many of the features available with current products are not quality features with lasting value: they are designed as “flashy marketing” to grab the attention of potential buyers, but don’t offer quality results.  In other words, we see a lot of “clutter” out there: gimmicks and features that aren’t really adding anything of value to golfers.  We are in it for the long haul.  We strive for quality with holding power.

Here are some of the things we think most golfers DO like and/or that have lasting value:

  • Accurate distances to the pin or to course features.  We see that most golfers already have a means to determine distances on the course, and those that don’t are likely to have one soon.  This might include a GPS device, a laser device, or a phone app that uses GPS.  Some golfers use more than one, and we think GPS/ laser combo devices are likely to become more popular.  Most golfers are unlikely to give up their distance-to-the-pin devices, and we think they have strong, lasting value.  They actually speed up the game and most golfers find they ADD to their golfing experience.
  • QUALITY statistics.  I emphasize quality because most products on the market, and even the PGA Tour(!), focus more on quantity than quality.  We clearly understand the superiority of strokes gained statistics over other statistics, and we believe the rest of the golfing world will eventually understand this fact as well.  So you wont ever see SGG adding stats like Total Putts or Total Driving.  We think they are essentially worthless, as are most of the other traditional statistics out there.  Even time-tested stats like Greens in Regulation pale in comparison to their strokes gained equivalents: just wait until we unveil our Strokes Gained Greens in Regulation statistic!  We are trying to educate people about the value of strokes gained stats, and there is a whole, fascinating world of strokes gained statistics and analysis that we are constantly developing and exploring.
  • Simple, solid, accurate, and dependable on course data collection.  If we’re going to generate stats, then we have to collect data for your rounds of golf.  At SGG, we are always asking ourselves “What is the simplest way to collect the necessary data?”  We know for our own rounds of golf that we want the process to be very easy, but also very accurate.  Bad data makes for bad stats.  A simple on course system that requires extensive post-round editing is not very useful.

Here are some things we think most golfers DO NOT like and/or that do not have lasting value:

  • Extensive stats that don’t tell you much about your golf game.  I think most of us are susceptible to “numbers fatigue”: if a stat is not telling an interesting or useful story, we aren’t going to have much interest in it over time.
  • On-course swing analysis.  This seems to be a hot new feature, but we can’t imagine most golfers finding this useful.  Swing analysis on the range?  Absolutely.  But swing analysis during a round sounds like a nightmare to us, and we think most sensible golfers would agree.
  • Inaccurate stats.  If the process of collecting data is not dependable, the results are going to be skewed.  Bad stats are worthless stats.  Better to have no stats at all than stats that don’t effectively measure your game.
  • Imposing data collection.  If data collection interrupts the flow of the game, most golfers don’t want to bother.

We believe GPS/laser devices are something golfers will continue to use.  You can clip them onto your hat, wear them as a watch, use them with your smartphone, or carry them any number of other ways, but we are convinced that golfers will continue to carry them in one way or another.  Integrating on course data collection with the widespread use of these devices is necessary.  That is why SGG is working toward a strokes gained app that puts all of these features in one place.  We think the clear answer is a single device or smartphone that can:

  • Accurately get distances to the hole or other course features using GPS and/or laser
  • Collect distance to hole and lie type with the push of a button while standing next to your ball.  This is the data necessary for strokes gained statistics.
  • Include other data collection if desired by the golfer, including club used.  This could further include data entered before a round, such as wind speed and wind direction, elevation, temperature, date and time, course played, slope rating course rating, golfer handicap at start of round, etc.  This extra data collection, if desired, has the ability to produce fascinating strokes gained analysis.
  • Accurately determine the distance to hole of putts.  All devices/apps currently on the market simply are not dealing with this challenge realistically.  GPS, for example, simply does not possess the accuracy necessary to determine putting distance in feet.  Many people do not understand this fact.  We hoped, early on, that we could use GPS to determine putting distances, but research exposed a harsh reality: GPS cannot be used to get putting distances.  We concluded that if we want good putting stats, we will need to determine and enter distances manually.  Until some new technology emerges, the best way to determine putts is the old fashioned way: pace them off.  That’s how we do it, and it is not at all difficult.  Entering this distance into a device, usually between holes, is the best solution for real golfers.  The resulting stats are spectacular, and we believe they are worth it.
  • Include a scorecard so that another scorecard is not necessary.  The scorecard should do everything a scorecard normally does: allow you to record your score on each hole, show the par for the hole, show your score and other golfers’ scores for the front nine, back nine, total score, etc.
  • Easily edit data from previous holes/rounds.  Mistakes are made.  Being able to fix them ensures accurate stats.
  • Automatically enter the data.  Once data is entered, all you have to do is check out your stats.
  • Present statistics in a clear, useful manner that allows you to access previous rounds and track progress over time.

So designing and developing a singular device and/or app is our long-term goal, and we are are working to get there ASAP.  For now, we are offering a very useful, accurate, and functional product that allows you to get precise strokes gained stats to measure your golf game.  The current product is not yet able to incorporate GPS/laser functionality directly into the data collection.  That is a feature we have patented and are quickly working toward.  The current product is, however, VERY accurate, very simple to use, and easy to edit.  The stats it generates are flawless and well-presented.

Again, our focus is on long-term quality.  There are no gimmicks, no tricks, no false advertising.  We are offering strokes gained statistics that you won’t find anywhere else.






“Strokes Gained Per Round” vs. “Strokes Gained Per Stroke”

Strokes gained stats can be calculated and presented in two distinct ways: per stroke and per round.  Strokes Gained Golf generates both “Strokes Gained per round” and “Strokes Gained per stroke” statistics, because we strongly believe each offers unique advantages for measuring and tracking various golf skills.

“Strokes Gained per round” is the traditional way strokes gained stats have been calculated, and is the more common way of talking about strokes gained statistics.  The PGA Tour, for example, uses per round calculations to determine Strokes Gained Putting, Strokes Gained Tee to Green, and Total Strokes Gained.  It appears the Tour will continue to primarily use per round values as it develops more strokes gained stats such as Strokes Gained Driving.

“Strokes Gained per stroke” is a far less common way to generate strokes gained statistics, but offers its own unique analytical advantages.  In his book Every Shot Counts, Mark Broadie spends a paragraph describing the differences between the two approaches, but basically argues against the usefulness of per stroke measurements and focuses almost exclusively on per round numbers.

I will use this blog post to describe the advantages of each method.  In order to do so, we will examine a theoretical 18 hole round of golf played by Tom, a 10 handicap golfer.  Tom finished the round on September 8th, and dutifully entered the necessary data into the SGG Record-A-Round interface.  Tom scored a 78 on the par 72 course.

Of course, every shot that Tom took for the round has an associated strokes gained value. Some of those values are positive, indicating a shot that was better than the PGA Tour average.  Some of those values are negative, indicating a shot that was worse than the PGA Tour average.  In order to generate useful statistics from this raw strokes gained information, Strokes Gained Golf has created multiple “categories”, each representing a distance range and a defined skill:

  • Putting (all shots taken from the green)
  • 0-50 yds (all lies)
  • 51-100 yds (all lies)
  • 101-150 yds (all lies)
  • 151-200 yds (all lies)
  • 200+ yds (all lies minus par 4 and par 5 tee shots)
  • Driving (all Par 4 and Par 5 tee shots)
  • Total SG (all shots taken during the round)

Strokes Gained per round stats are calculated by adding up all SG values for all shots in a given category for a single round of golf.

Strokes Gained per stroke stats are calculated by averaging the SG values for all shots in a given category.

It really is that simple.

Going back to Tom, his statistics for the round show that he had a Total SG of -9.89 for the round.  In other words, a theoretical “Average PGA Pro” playing the same shots would have beat him by 9.89 strokes.  A further look at Tom’s SG Per Round for the round:

  • Total SG: -9.89
  • Putting: -0.25
  • 0-50: -3.11
  • 51-100: -0.31
  • 101-150: -1.88
  • 151-200: -1.50
  • 201+: -0.23
  • Driving: -2.61

These stats are very useful for seeing how Tom’s skill in each category affected his round as a whole.  For example, he lost only .25 strokes all day due to putting, but his 0-50 yard shots hurt him the most, costing him 3.11 strokes to the pro.  When viewing golf skill across categories, the per round stats are very helpful.  When looking at how his performance in every category affected his score, these stats are ideal.  Tom knows for this round which skills helped him and hurt him the most, giving him unprecedented guidance in understanding how the different parts of his game affect his score relative to each other. These per round stats are also very intuitive.  One quick look tells you exactly how many strokes were lost in each category.  The cumulative numbers for the round in each category are large enough to sink your teeth into – something the per stroke numbers do not offer.

One thing per round stats don’t tell you, however, is how many strokes were taken in each category.  So, while it is useful to know how many strokes Tom lost cumulatively to the pro in each category, Tom’s skill in each category is not precisely measured, because the number of shots taken in each category varies from round to round.

To illustrate the point, imagine a round in which Tom’s approach shots are consistently off, causing him to miss the greens more than usual and therefore increase his shots taken between 0-50 yards.  Because Tom in this case takes so many more shots than normal in this range, we would expect his Strokes Gained per round to be relatively poor for this round.  In other words, taking 20 shots instead of 10 for a golfer of Tom’s ability is likely to give him a cumulatively poorer result in this category.  The quality of each shot in the category, however, may have been average or even above average.

Consequently, Strokes Gained Golf realized early on that for accurately measuring and tracking a golfer’s skill in a given category, Strokes Gained per stroke is the best statistic.  Strokes Gained per round is still the best tool to measure many things, but is not the best tool for accurately measuring golfer skill.

Returning to Tom’s round, his Strokes Gained per stroke stats for the same round are as follows:

  • SG Total: -0.13
  • Putting: -0.01
  • 0-50 yds: -0.18
  • 51-100 yds: -0.31
  • 101-150 yds: -0.47
  • 151-200 yds: -0.30
  • 201+ yds: -0.12
  • Driving: -0.15

At first glance, these stats are not nearly as useful.  First of all, the numbers are so low that they are hard to understand.  On their own, these numbers don’t show us a whole lot. For example, I’m not sure intuitively how to judge “-0.31” strokes in the 51-100 category.  Is that good or bad?   However, if we are looking to understand our skill in a given category, these numbers are ideal.  Strokes Gained per stroke stats tell you precisely how you are performing on every shot.  They really become illuminating when they are tracked over time.  For example looking at SG per stroke stats in the 0-50 yard category round to round will tell you precisely how you are performing relative to other rounds played, accurately measuring every shot for it’s quality.

For Tom, the stats reflect the fact that he only took 3 shots for the entire round in the 201+ category.  The Per Round stats in that category are not measuring his skill accurately. Imagine that during his next round he takes 6 shots in that category.  This variation in shots per round can cause misleading per round results if they are not taken in context. Contrast the 201+ category with the Putting category, where Tom took 27 shots.  It is clear that each approach reveals unique, distinctly valuable information.

In the 0-50 yard category, Tom took a whopping 18 shots.  This is a perfect example of how per round stats can be somewhat misleading.  It appears this was his worst category for the round, losing him 3.11 strokes to the pro.  But a closer look reveals that because he took so many shots in the category, his skill at this range really wasn’t so bad after all.  The per stroke stats confirm this, showing that he only lost a respectable 0.18 strokes per stroke.  If Tom was interested in where he lost strokes for the round, he would see that he lost the most in this category, which is useful information.  However, if Tom is tracking his skill on shots in that distance range, he will likely find that his results are respectable.  If he wants to work in practice on his weakest skill, it is the 101-150 category at -0.47 per stroke. But if he consistently expects to make about 18 strokes per round from 0-50 yards (as opposed to only 4 shots from 101-150), this is having a bigger impact on his score because of the number of times he has to make that kind of shot in a round. Again, each type of statistic offers a unique, valuable perspective on his game.

The average pro in the average tournament takes 29 putts, 10 shots from 0 to 100 yards, 18 shots over 101 yards, and slightly over 14 drives.  For golfers of different ability levels and with varying skill in different categories, those numbers will vary dramatically.  In all cases, number of shots taken in a given category can vary drastically from round to round.

Another useful result of per stroke stats is their ability to put each shot into context, judging it in relation to various benchmarks.  For example, for any shot during a round you can know what result will be better or worse than average.  Once you know your per stroke averages in any category, you can use those values to accurately measure each shot in relation to your average result.  For example, after hitting a shot from the fairway 140 yards from the pin, your SG record-a-round mobile interface will immediately tell you your strokes gained value for that shot.  Once you know your per stroke average in the 101-150 category, you can use your result to directly compare your shot to your own average.

Eventually, SGG will be able to tell you instantly the quality of a given shot: was it a scratch level shot, a 10 handicap level shot, or a 20 handicap level shot?  Strokes gained per stroke stats makes this type of analysis possible.

Hopefully I have been able to adequately explain the difference between per round and per stroke strokes gained stats, and have shown that each is valuable in their own right.  Soon, you will find that all of this is not at all complicated.  Once you have become better acquainted with strokes gained statistics, you will discover the same thing we have: they are simple, elegant, exceptionally accurate, useful, flexibly applied to any aspect of the game, and ever-expanding.






Strokes Gained Stats and the PGA Tour: What’s Taking So Long?

For those of us who understand the superiority of strokes gained stats over traditional golf statistics, it is very painful to watch the PGA Tour slog along in developing and adopting them.  If you have ever dared to venture onto the PGA Tour’s website to see their stats section, then you know it is a vast and confusing world, so filled with worthless numbers that finding the few valuable stats hiding in the wasteland is like finding a needle in a haystack. It is not hard to understand why most golfers’ eyes glaze over when you start to talk about golf statistics: golfers have learned to mistrust stats and numbers as reliable measurement tools.  I can hardly blame them: essentially every traditional stat does a very poor job of measuring player performance, quantifying player skill, and predicting future results.  People’s instincts are right: the traditional stats just don’t tell us very much.

There is plenty of published material out there that describes in crystal clear fashion why traditional golf statistics fail, and why strokes gained statistics are revolutionary in every way.  There are great articles in major publications, and now we have Mark Broadie’s book “Every Shot Counts”, which is packed with great information and offers plenty of convincing arguments about the value of strokes gained stats.  Finally, we have a way to measure golfers and golf performance very accurately and present those measurements in simple, elegant fashion.  If you understand how strokes gained stats work, then you understand that we no longer need most other golf stats: there is a whole world of valuable strokes gained stats that easily overwhelm the old methods and make them obsolete.  But old habits die hard, and to understand that you need look no further than the PGA Tour itself.

The PGA Tour has every tool and piece of data at their disposal.  They have access to the brightest minds in the development of strokes gained methodology, including Mark Broadie, who not only was the main guy responsible for advancing the methods, but is also on the forefront of the effort to push the stats even further.  The Tour has access to an unbelievable and vast array of data going back to 2004 thanks to Shotlink, which they developed!  So it is certainly fair to ask the question: what is taking so long?

To answer that question, we should first observe where PGA Tour strokes gained statistics stand right now, and then address what we are missing.

Currently, the PGA tour has 2 main strokes gained statistics: strokes gained putting and strokes gained tee to green.  I guess they also have total strokes gained, but that is not a particularly useful stat at that level since it closely mirrors scoring average.  Strokes gained putting is an extremely valuable stat, and there are plenty of people raving about it’s accuracy in measuring putting skill.  Tour players clearly see it’s accuracy and value, and they see that it backs up their instincts: the top putters on tour perpetually live at the top of the strokes gained standings, the worst putters sit at the bottom, and individual players certainly see that their own skill is properly measured, whether it be by the season or by the round.  I need not elaborate on the value of strokes gained putting: it gains more believers every day and is on its way to making stats like “total putts” completely irrelevant.

Strokes gained tee to green is a little less inspiring.  This stat is calculated by taking total strokes gained and subtracting out strokes gained putting.  It is a perfectly accurate measure of off-green skill.  The trouble with strokes gained tee to green is it doesn’t tell us very much about any particular golfing skill.  Lumping all non-putting golf skills into one stat just isn’t very informative for players or fans.  Strokes gained tee to green is by no means wrong or inaccurate, it is just a bit too general to be useful.

The generality of strokes gained tee to green can be better understood if we examine the things that strokes gained methodology could be telling us.  Strokes gained can be used to measure every shot on the PGA Tour, by every player, and to accurately value that shot in relation to the field, all the while presenting the value in terms of strokes, which is no doubt the simplest and best way to measure the game of golf.  Knowing how many strokes every shot gains you or loses you to the field, down to the hundredth of a stroke, is exceptionally useful.

There is plenty of value for everyone in knowing the precise value of every shot, but there is perhaps even greater value to be found when the shots are grouped together, over any defined period of time.  How the shots are grouped, and what we are able to measure over time, is literally limited only by the imagination.

For example, if we are interested in knowing how a player is performing off the tees on par 4 and par 5 holes, then we simply measure each of those 14 shots during a round.  This is the concept behind “strokes gained driving”.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much this stat blows all other driving stats out of the water.  I also can’t begin to tell you how simple this stat would be for the Tour to calculate and present RIGHT NOW.  It is beyond me why the Tour is not already calculating strokes gained driving.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg.  ANY DISTANCE RANGE can easily be measured.  That would include, for example, 0-100 yards, putts inside 10 feet, 250 yards+, 0-10 yards, 100-200 yards.  Pick your range.  It can all be done.  Furthermore, any distance range can be combined with any lie type.  So we can know how a golfer plays from the rough from 100-200 yards.  From bunkers under 30 yards.  From the fairway 0-50 yards.  You get the idea.  To repeat, we can have ultra accurate strokes gained stats for any distance and lie type imaginable.

In addition, all of these stats can be tracked over time, so progression and regression can be followed with extreme accuracy.

Not only can shots be measured, but courses and course zones can be measured.  We can know that the rough at a given tournament is playing 2.435 strokes harder than average, or that the rough on the 17th hole is particularly brutal.  We can measure the difficulty of individual bunkers or all the bunkers as a whole.  Furthermore, we can know how difficult a particular shot is.

For television broadcasts, the potential is limitless.  Before every shot, we can know where a player would need to leave the ball to gain strokes on the field.  We can compare the value of similar shots by players to the thousandth of a stroke.  We could establish strokes gained target zones for each shot.  We can know exactly where the winner of a tournament is gaining strokes over the field or the player in second place.  We can judge each shot immediately for its quality in relation to the field.

Beyond all of these possibilities, television viewers could directly compare their own games with those of the pros.  For example, before a shot the screen could show where a scratch golfer would be expected to hit the ball, where a ten handicapper would end up, etc.  This ability to compare pros to amateurs is one of the hidden gems found within the world of strokes gained: golf is one of the few games where the viewing public consistently plays the same game as the pros.  Strokes gained can be used to tie the two groups together, showing just how good pros are and also giving viewers inspiration.  There is no doubt that such information would expand interest in the game of golf, which is what the entire industry is hoping for.

Strokes gained can easily be used to measure other factors as well: pressure, temperature, wind, elevation, time of day, club used: you name it.  Literally anything in the world of golf can be measured.

The Tour had all the tools available to them to make this all happen three years ago.  Right now, we are only as far as one good stat (strokes gained putting), and one so-so stat (strokes gained tee to green).  I’m not sure why they are so slow.  We can only hope that they pick up the pace in the future.

At Strokes Gained Golf, we are super excited about the possibilities strokes gained offers.  We are doing our best to do our part, quickly developing the ability for amateurs to utilize all the power of strokes gained stats for their own games.  We love it for our own games, and we know there are a lot of golfers out there who are going to love having it to measure their own games as well.

We could easily see a point in the near future when amateurs actually have better stats available for their own games than PGA Tour players have for theirs.  We know exactly where we are trying to get to, and we know golfers everywhere are soon going to be enjoying all the benefits strokes gained stats have to offer. For better or worse, that seems to be happening at a much faster pace here at Strokes Gained Golf than it is on the PGA Tour.

Beating “the pro” – Using strokes gained for individual shots to establish targets and measure shot quality

Strokes gained stats such as strokes gained putting are generally calculated and presented on a per round basis.  In other words, statistics are generated by adding up the strokes gained values of all individual shots that fall within the defined category during a single round.  Once the per round values are established, they can be combined or averaged to produce other stats reflecting performance over a range of time, such as a season or year.   Strokes gained putting stats are generated by adding the cumulative strokes gained values of all shots taken from the green over the course of a round, and then averaging those results over time.  Strokes gained driving stats are generated by adding the cumulative strokes gained values of all shots taken from the tee on par 4’s and par 5’s.  Calculating strokes gained stats on a per round basis proves valuable in analyzing player peformance and skill, and the PGA tour uses these per round values as the basis for all strokes gained analysis.

However, it is important to recognize that all statistics are initially generated by evaluating individual shots.  Every shot performed on a golf course is given a specific strokes gained value based on the lie type and distance-to hole of every ball at rest from the tee to the hole.  In other words, every individual shot is judged for quality in relation to the benchmark,  Once each shot is given a value, a huge variety of statistics can be generated by simply grouping those individual shots into categories.  While the PGA Tour currently only presents strokes gained putting and strokes gained tee to green, it is very easy to calculate a whole host of other useful stats using strokes gained methodology.

Why the PGA Tour is not developing and presenting more stats more quickly is a great question that deserves its own blog post.  Suffice it to say that the Tour right now has the ability to produce a ton of extremely illuminating strokes gained stats that could accurately measure the quality of each player’s game in nearly any aspect.  We could and should already have strokes gained driving, strokes for greenside bunkers, strokes gained out of the rough, strokes gained for any distance range, etc.  All that is required is simply defining which shots will be included in a given category, and then cumulatively added to produce a strokes gained total for each round played.

While it is very useful to “bundle” shots on a per round basis, there is also a lot of value to creating stats per shot.  Strokes Gained Golf  sees great value in generating stats on both a per round and per shot basis.  Not bundling shots on a per round basis opens up a different and very useful method of analysis.

Perhaps the most interesting result is the ability to generate targets for each shot during a round.

The basic idea of targets is that every shot performed during a round of golf can be viewed as an opportunity to “better” the benchmark.  Literally before every shot a golfer can know where he needs to put the ball to improve upon the PGA Tour average.  For example, a golfer hitting a shot from 140 yards in the fairway would need to hit the ball to within 23 feet of the pin to beat the PGA Tour average.  A golfer hitting a ball from a bunker 15 yards from the pin would need to hit the ball within 8 feet of the pin to better the pros.  A golfer on the tee 420 yards to the pin would have to hit the ball in the fairway closer than 180 yards to the pin to better the pros.  This type of “target” analysis can be done for any position on the golf course.

Even more interesting is that we don’t have to be limited to PGA Tour benchmarks for our basis of comparison.  While the pro benchmarks are fun to know and it is thrilling to occasionally “beat the pro”, it can be a frustrating goal.  Fortunately, good strokes gained systems such as those found on this site are not limited to those high-end comparisons.  It is very simple to create benchmarks for each shot that reflect your own average, or the average of 10 handicappers, or the average of a friend, etc.  So in essence, before playing any shot during a round, a golfer has the ability to identify multiple targets, each reflecting a distinct level of quality.  Furthermore, AFTER performing a shot, a golfer has the ability to know exactly the quality level of that shot.  This is an extremely powerful tool that is fun, fascinating and useful.  With strokes gained, a golfer can know exactly the level of each shot, knowing whether it was pro level, scratch level, 7 handicap level, 30 handicap level, etc.

These per shot benchmarks are established by creating strokes gained values per shot in various categories.  For example, after recording a few rounds a golfer will have a per shot strokes gained putting value.  Let’s say that value is -.123, which means for every putt, the golfer averages .123 strokes below the pro benchmark.  This allows us to establish a per shot benchmark for the golfer, reflecting their own average result on all putts.  This process can be used in other categories as well.  Now the golfer not only can know the pro target for each shot, but also a target reflecting their own expected results.  Expanding upon this idea, the golfer will also be able to know the expected result for any handicap level for each shot.

Of course, to make this level of analysis possible, a golfer must have access to this type of instant analysis during a round, without the process impeding the flow of their round of golf. That is why Strokes Gained Golf has been hard at work over the last couple of years. Knowing the value of such tools, and also knowing that we don’t want to be burdened during a round of golf. we have been diligently working to bring these ideas to all golfers in the most trouble-free way possible.  By using our app on the course, all of this analysis will be available to you.  Eventually, GPS and laser functionality will make the process even smoother.  Utilizing GPS and/or laser to automatically determine distances-to-hole, combined with a simple on-course scorecard interface will be the future of strokes gained.  We have a patent pending for that process.

So yes, this ability to identify targets before a shot is within your reach.  The ability to immediately understand the quality of a shot after it has been performed is within your reach.  By using our app, you will have access to all your strokes gained stats, in any category, both on a per round and a per shot basis.  Plus this is all recorded and tracked over time, so it will be easy to see improvement or regression.  We have carefully designed graphs that we believe present all of this information in a clear and flexible fashion.